An Examination of the Mexico City Policy, Past and Present, and its Effects on Health Abroad.
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On January 22, 2001 President George W. Bush reinstated the Mexico City Policy. Originally announced by Reagan in 1984, the policy requires foreign nongovernmental organizations to agree as a condition of their receipt of Federal funds for family planning that they will neither perform nor 'actively promote' abortion. To actively promote abortion includes lobbying, conducting public information campaigns, and providing counseling or information in any way relating to abortion. The new policy has only been in affect for a matter of months, thus information on its effects are minimal. However, since it is almost identical to the Reagan policy, we can gain an idea of its probable health effects by examining the earlier one. The two main drawbacks of the policy between 1984 and 1993 were: 1) the language was so complex NGO staffs often misunderstood the regulation details and 2) the fear the policy instilled in the NGO?s often led to 'overcautiousness' such as clinics turning women away for treatments allowed under the policy. These reactions not only lead to an increase in unsafe abortions and maternal mortality, but also a decrease in overall family planning, which in turn hurts efforts to fight issues such as AIDS and overpopulation. Broadly, the policy contradicts the U.S. Constitution, American medical standards, and almost all international laws set within the last three decades. Specifically, the gag rule will penalize 59 countries, and their subprograms in other countries, whose NGOs receive family planning assistance.